The 10 best beers in Madrid

From Malasaña to Huertas: a bar hopper’s guide to the perfect ‘caña’

A glass of beer from the Fábrica Maravillas in Madrid.
A glass of beer from the Fábrica Maravillas in Madrid.Cristobal Manuel
Carlos Delgado

Perhaps accounting for the particularly high levels of consumption in the capital, Madrid is renowned for the best-pulled beer in Spain, and pouring the perfect glass involves a skill that some establishments have more respect for than others.

Basically, the trick is as follows: keep the glass 20 cm from the tap and tilt it so it fills up on the side, getting rid of excess CO2. The beer should be cold but not freezing – the ideal temperature is 4ºC . It should also be left to stand for a moment then topped up, with excess foam removed with a spatula. Finally, the tap should be put on and off briskly to create a 2cm head. It goes without saying, of course, that this head should not be allowed to brim over.

We rounded up 10 bars which have pulling beer down to an art, but there are many more to rival these establishments, such as the Santa Bárbara, Cervecería Cervantes, Fide, Taberna del Limón, Cervecería Kloster and Bar Nájera… It’s simply a question of dedicating time and energy to discovering them.

1. Bodega de la Ardosa

La Bodega de la Ardosa, in Madrid
La Bodega de la Ardosa, in MadridMariana Eliano (Getty)

One of the oldest and liveliest beer cellars in Madrid, this tavern was founded in 1892 and is now run by Ángel and his mother, Concepción. They only sell foreign brands and are particularly skilled at pulling pints, which can take them as long as five minutes.

2. Casa Emilio

Casa Emilio in Madrid.
Casa Emilio in Madrid.Juanjo Bazán (Flickr)

Founded in 1947 and now run by the next generation, this is the best beer bar in the neighborhood of Prosperidad. With its tiled walls, excellent Vermouth on tap and well-pulled cañas, it makes the perfect spot for an aperitif.

3. El Cangrejero

Bar El Cangrejero, in a photo from the publication Madrid in 20 bars by Armero Ediciones.
Bar El Cangrejero, in a photo from the publication Madrid in 20 bars by Armero Ediciones.

This bar is named for the fresh crabs they served here in the 1960s, which locals would go wild for. Today, they still have quality seafood as well as a 180-meter cooling coil that lowers the beer to the exact temperature before owner, Ángel Peinado pours it with exquisite care.

4. El Cantábrico

Beers in El Cantábrico in Madrid.
Beers in El Cantábrico in Madrid.

Not much has changed at El Cantábrico since it was opened in 1948 by Dionisio Amorós. Serving quality beer and seafood, it has the same zinc counters and taps. Tapas to go with the excellently pulled beer includenécoras (small crabs), periwinkles, prawns and pickled anchovies with garlic and parsley.

5. El Doble

There is a sign on El Doble’s ceramic façade declaring its old-fashioned skill at pulling beer. Inside, the walls are lined with photos and the counter is the traditional aluminum, making it a great place to have a doble.

El Doble in Ponzano Street, Madrid.
El Doble in Ponzano Street, Madrid.santi burgos

6. El Enfriador

There’s a reason this local bar, located at the corner of Príncipe de Vergara, 291, is always packed. The beer is served at the perfect temperature – hence the name – and comes with a state of the art head.

7. Fábrica Maravillas

The taps in the Fábrica Maravillas in Madrid.
The taps in the Fábrica Maravillas in Madrid.Cristobal Manuel

The modern alternative to the traditional tavern, this bar offers a wide range of homemade beers that are served from their nine taps and come in various sizes, including American Pale Ale, Saison, Indian Pale Ale, Session IPA, Red Ale, Stout, Triple.

8. La Cervecera

It’s worth heading down to Vallecas just to sample what you will probably conclude is one of the best-pulled ‘cañas’ in Madrid. With 30 years of experience behind them and a loyal clientele who descend on the bar on weekends, La Cervecera’s secret is to stick to tradition and use classic cooling coils and great pouring techniques.

9. Oldenburg

The Oldenburg, bar in Madrid.
The Oldenburg, bar in Madrid.

Pioneers in imported beer, they serve a wide variety from their nine taps and have a special offer that changes from month to month. The Chemay, Weihenstephaner, Orval and Tedeum all come recommended, though you can always ask advice from the owner, Juan Carlos Cabezón.

10. Taberna La Dolores

Taberna La Dolores in Madrid.
Taberna La Dolores in Madrid.Rafa Samano (Getty)

A hundred years old, this bar has genuine local character. The marble counter combines with a tiled façade and sign advertising fresh beer and tapas to make it a magnet for tourists.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS